The Boatswain's Mate

Opera

Writers: Ethel Smyth

Overview

Show Information

Music
Libretto
Based on the Play/Book/Film
The Boatswain's Mate by W.W. Jacobs
Category
Opera
Number of Acts
1
First Produced
1916
Genres
Comedy, Romance
Settings
Period, Multiple Settings
Time & Place
England, 20th Century
Cast Size
small
Orchestra Size
Large
Dancing
None
Licensor
None/royalty-free
Ideal for
Chamber Opera, College/University, Professional Opera, Small Cast
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes mature adult, adult, late teen, young adult characters

Synopsis

Since the death of her husband, Mrs Waters has not considered the possibility of remarrying. The constant proposals from Harry Benn are putting her off even more. Even if she were interested, he is far too old for her, and he drinks too much. She should know, she serves him every night at The Beehive. No, she is quite content being the landlady, and keeping the inn in good order takes up enough of her time.

When she is surprised in the night by a handsome stranger trespassing in her house, she has half a mind to shoot him. He insists it is not necessary, he is only pretending to be a burglar for a strange plan concocted by Benn, in which Benn would come to Mrs Waters aid when she screams out. Seizing the opportunity to pay Benn back for this, and his constant whining at her, they stage the scene to make it look like she has been surprised by Travers and accidentally shot him and killed him. Their plot is successful, and with some quick thinking they even manage to convince Benn, and a Policeman, that he imagined it all.

Through the laughter, Mrs Waters and Travers form a bond of friendship, and he leaves her after breakfast with the possibility of something more.

Ethel Smyth’s The Boatswain’s Mate is a delightful romcom that was popular from its first performance. Over a century later its score, plot, and strong feminist themes still engage audiences with just as much vibrancy.

Lead Characters